NRAR lays 13 charges over alleged water access breaches in state’s south-west

Media release | 1 December 2021

The Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) is prosecuting a landholder from the western Riverina for allegedly overdrawing 2700 megalitres (ML) of water from a Water Access Licence (WAL).

Kirsty Ruddock, NRAR’s Director Water Enforcement Taskforce, said the landholder based in Carrathool is facing 13 charges under section 60C(2) of the Water Management Act 2000 (WM Act) for taking water otherwise than in accordance with their access licenses.

“This is an important case to remind water users that every time they go into debit on their water account it is an offence.” Ms Ruddock said.

“Overdrawn water accounts are a regulatory priority for NRAR and we have been looking at these accounts for the past year or so and investigating those overdrawn by larger amounts.”

“The Carrathool landholder’s licence is a zero share WAL or a water account with no water credited to it. It’s a bit like a bank account with zero dollars in it. Before they take water a landowner needs to purchase or trade the water into the account.”

“The landowner used bores to source the groundwater to irrigate a mixed-use farming property.”

“Since November 2018 there was an alleged debit of more than 2700ML which could fill nearly 1100 Olympic-sized swimming pools.”

“Also of concern is that the water came from the Lower Murrumbidgee Deep Groundwater Source, which is an at-risk water source.”

“As a result, the landholder’s alleged actions were not just unlawful, they also had the potential to harm the environment and other water users,” Ms Ruddock said.

“Water users who deliberately breach our water laws will be held to account and NRAR will continue our work to protect our water.”

“We understand the people of NSW want a fair, transparent and enforceable water compliance regime to prevent unlawful water take and that is what we are delivering,” Ms Ruddock said.

The landholder will appear in the Land and Environment Court on 4 February 2022.

To make a confidential report on suspected water misuse, visit NRAR’s website nrar.nsw.gov.au/suspicious-activities.